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Sexton vows Ireland will be primed for Wales storm

 

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Johnny Sexton. Photo: PA

Johnny Sexton. Photo: PA

PA

Johnny Sexton. Photo: PA

Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton has vowed that his side will be quick off the blocks in their battle against Grand Slam champions Wales and Storm Ciara.

Wales blew the Irish away in the final game of the campaign last March to earn Warren Gatland a third Grand Slam after Joe Schmidt's decision to keep the Principality Stadium roof open backfired horribly.

And, after admitting his side were to blame for the "flat" atmosphere during last weekend's opening Six Nations win against the Scots, out-half Sexton insists his side can step up their game.

"Last year proved some of the worst conditions I've ever played in and it was like karma for keeping the roof open," said Sexton.

"We will be prepared. Obviously the weather is changing a lot so we will wait until the morning and see what it will be like. The start of the game is always important. Last year they took a seven-point lead and then a soft penalty from me for sealing off a ruck. And we missed a couple of chances to score at the start of the game as well. It felt flat last week and I felt like we needed to start well to get the crowd into it and we didn't really do that."

Dave Kilcoyne is fit for the bench after passing all concussion tests while Wales make just one change, with Nick Tompkins getting a first start at 13, which means George North moves to the wing to replace demoted Johnny McNicholl.

"We've said all along we want to evolve the attack, but it's got to have a common-sense approach attached to it," said Wales coach Wayne Pivac. "If the conditions dictate, then we have to win games through an arm wrestle as well."

Wales - (v Ireland): L Halfpenny; G North, N Tompkins, H Parkes, J Adams; D Biggar, T Williams; W Jones, K Owens, D Lewis, J Ball, A-W Jones (capt), A Wainwright, J Tipuric, T Faletau. Rep: R Elias, R Carre, L Brown, A Beard, R Moriarty, G Davies, O Williams, J McNicholl.

Irish Independent